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What Happens If I’m Hurt at Work — and My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?

What Happens If I’m Hurt at Work — and My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?

You may be able to file a lawsuit or take advantage of a state program to cover injured workers

What Happens If I’m Hurt at Work — and My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?

In California, employers are required to either purchase workers’ compensation insurance or become self-insured (proving to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development that they have sufficient funds to cover workers’ compensation benefits). Workers’ compensation is a system whereby workers who are injured on the job or who develop an occupational injury can get medical and financial benefits without proving that their employer did anything wrong.

While the system works well to make sure that injured workers receive benefits, there are situations where a worker gets hurt or develops an occupational illness only to learn that their employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance. As a California workers’ comp lawyer can explain, there two options that you can pursue.

The first option is to file a lawsuit against your employer to recover for your injuries. Normally, workers’ compensation is considered to be an exclusive remedy. This means that — with a few exceptions — if you’re hurt at work, you cannot sue your employer. Instead, you will get benefits through the workers’ comp system. If an employer fails to comply with the law, you are entitled to file a lawsuit against them.

However, there may be situations where an employer lacks the funds to pay any judgment or settlement if you sue them. That brings us to our second option: the Uninsured Employers’ Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF). This fund is a special unit within the Division of Workers’ Compensation that offers benefits to employees who get sick or who are injured while working for an employer who does not have insurance. The UEBTF will pay you benefits, then go after your employer for reimbursement.

Your employer may also be subject to criminal sanctions for failing to carry workers’ comp insurance. Not carrying workers’ compensation insurance is a criminal offense. If your employer is convicted of this misdemeanor crime, they may be sentenced to up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The state of California may also penalize them in an amount up to $100,000 for failing to carry insurance.

If you are concerned that your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can check their status through the California Workers’ Compensation Coverage website. If you learn that they are uninsured, you can then contact a local Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to report them.

We personally only handle cases where the employer has workers’ compensation insurance, but we wanted to make sure you are aware of other options if not. At PLBSH, we represent workers throughout California who have been hurt or become ill at work. We will help you through the process, from filing initial claims to handling appeals and representing you at a hearing. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California workers’ comp lawyer, contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com.

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